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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

January 29, 2013

How Do You Promote Dog Treats Most Humans Find Gross?

By Elizabeth Creith


On the counter at Animalia we have a box of beef bullies. Beef bullies—now there's a nice little euphemism for you, right up there with prairie oysters and lamb fry. Or maybe I should say, right down there.
The thing you can absolutely say about dogs is this: Whatever the "yuck" factor is for humans, there is almost nothing on an animal that dogs won't eat. Hooves, ears, noses and—um—bullies, dogs will chew on any of them with relish. This makes the treat section of a really well-stocked pet store picturesque, to say the least. It's quite surprising what you can get from the suppliers' catalogues.

Dog chew
It's true that you don't get absolutely every dead animal part going. Liver usually comes in nice little dehydrated chunks. Lungs are also chopped into bits. Dried whole kidneys are in short supply, for which we may be grateful. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do like my mother-in-law's steak-and-kidney pie, in spite of the distinctive aroma it exudes while baking.) No tongues, either, nor do we see dehydrated eyeballs, or—and this just occurred to me—canned eyeballs in little glass jam jars. I'm pretty sure some pet somewhere would regard these as a primo treat. The trick would be selling them.

Unlike small children in the cookie aisle of a grocery store, dogs don't stand by their owners tugging on their hands and saying, “Please? Please, please, pleasepleaseplease pretty please?” That's because, unlike small children, dogs aren't attracted to bright packaging. They don't listen to advertising, either. They actually only want the eyeball if they can smell the eyeball. The wallet holders, on the contrary, particularly do not want the eyeball if they can smell it.

So it's making gross dead animal parts attractive to people that's the sticking point. Sometimes you do it by concealing what it is—putting those eyeballs in a can with a picture of a cute, woolly sheep on the label, or calling bull whatsits “bullies.” Sometimes you do it by putting it right out front. Pig noses, for example, sell like crazy in a clear plastic package that lets you look the product right in the nostrils. I think it's the humour of it that gets people.

This has led me to an idea to promote the dead animal parts section of the store. I want to assemble a critter. Look, I have almost everything I need, right? Cow hooves, lamb or pig ears, pig noses and pig tails and bull whatsits. I could use dog biscuits to make the legs and a smoked shinbone to make the body. A little hot glue and a pair of googly eyes and you'd have just about the cutest little edible Dr. Frankenstein's monster of a pet treat ever. I bet we could even sell them. Even if we didn't, it would look so cool on the shelf. I suggested this to David, and he said no, flat out.

But he'll cave in sooner or later.

Please, David? Please, please, pleasepleaseplease, pretty please?

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